Listen in as See You director Max Hunter discusses the show’s rehearsal process, making your play resonant to its local culture, unifying tone, how to make a list interesting in the theatre, play, honesty/vulnerability supplanted by signifiers, directing as conducting, and relaxing into a difficult piece.
“…in a world where you ask someone to put the phone away, and pay attention in a shared space for two hours—I think that really asks something, and there’s a weight to that…”
Listen in as Worse Than Tigers producer/director Jaclyn Biskup and actor Braeson Herold discuss collegiate connections, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia’s Rhinoceros?,” using your space, how to play an insufferable drip (hint: kindness & generosity), unexpected journeys, the importance of openness & trust in your rehearsal room, and “sausage casing” as metaphor.
“…I really like to direct absurdism the same way that one would direct realism, because I feel like it’s a really fine line. And I think today, our lives are very fu**ing absurd…”
Listen in as Cannibal Galaxy: a love story playwright Charise Greene, along with the duo behind the producing company Between Two Boroughs—the show’s director, Jenn Haltman, and Becca Schneider, who plays “Claire”—discuss impossibility in the theater, finding communal experiences in the wake of trauma, “the relationship between violence, science, and spirituality in our country,” embracing the structural elements of a space, galactic cannibalism, magical realism, irrevocable change, and where creativity and violence collide.
“…I always ask the question, ‘why does this have to be a play?’…for me, impossible plays are an opportunity to welcome collaboration…Becca’s ‘Claire’ coughing up peach pits, or ash, is going to be very different than another actress, and I want Becca’s version of that, and Jenn’s version of the larger picture…to me, it’s a leap of exciting theatricality that is the reason why I go to the theater.”
Listen in as Blessed Unrest Artistic Director and director of Platanov, or, A Play with No Name, Jessica Burr, discusses the company’s staging process for the round, adapting early Chekhov, finding the humanity in “dreadful” people, putting the audience in the world of the characters, sleepless nights thanks to blocking, and the similarities between this 140-year-old play and our current world.
“…I guess for me, ultimately, I don’t go to the theatre to see Platonov, or to see Hamlet. I go to the theatre to see actors, to see human beings being exposed…that’s really what I want to see. Of course it’s story, it’s narrative, it’s context, but it’s really about the humans, we put these humans in this situation, and we watch and see what they do. And hopefully we learn from them.”
Listen in as director Jessica Burr and performer Nancy McArthur (“Gerda”) of Blessed Unrest‘s original adaptation of The Snow Queen discuss how the company came to create a show geared toward young people, working with 10-year-old collaborators in the rehearsal room, “dulling as we age,” Blessed Unrest’s devising techniques, the importance of having your designers involved all through the process, workshops on devising & physical theatre (2/13–3/6), and why kids can be the perfect audience for abstract storytelling.
“…for me, it’s the story of a really courageous young girl, who displays her power in a way that is actually very feminine…she isn’t violent, she doesn’t have to fight for what she wants, in fact she’s really smart…”
Listen in as soot and spit director Kim Weild, scenic designer Matthew Imhoff, and performers J.W. Guido and Geraldine Leer, discuss play as poetry, interpreting unique scripts, creating an historical character with limited biographical resources, performing with boxes on your head and feet, when your fellow actors play your art, and making art about an artist using a different art-form.
“I think of this piece as a poem…it’s not a biography…”
Listen in as the director of Piehole‘s new show Ski End, Tara Ahmadinejad, along with performers Kijani-Ali Gaulman, Alexandra Panzer, Allison LaPlatney, discuss half walls & dead birds, “90s ski glory,” what it means to be a “script captain,” apocalyptic spaces, Frankenstein, the group mind, reaching toward the sublime, discussing big life questions with strangers, zooming in & zooming out, and the company’s wild road trip journey from Vermont to the cosmos.
“…dipping into the themes of nature, and dread. And we’re like, ‘ok, this isn’t necessarily an obvious one-to-one connection, but let’s push this further’…”
Listen in as actors Kevin R. Free and Matthew Trumbull, along with fight choreographer Rocío Mendez of Flux Theatre Ensemble‘s new show, Marian, or, The True Tale of Robin Hood discuss exploring the binary, realizing you’re on the wrong team, conformity vs. finding your tribe, cuckoo-birds in power, not working so hard to make yourself irresistible, and being in a room together through the dark times.
“Even joy these days seems somewhat defiant…the joy of the show is a statement, too. We live in times where allowing yourself to laugh is a political act, because it feels like we’re not supposed to…it feels like a bit of a revelation when people come here, and realize, ‘oh, I forgot about comedy…I forgot about what it’s like to release in that way…'”
Who really gets you? How well do you actually know yourself? And when your innocence is shattered, what can you do, who can you turn to, and where can you go?
For the characters in actress Erika Phoebus‘s Kiss It, Make It Better, the place to run away to is an abandoned roller coaster—but the real world has a way of encroaching in on the planned utopia of two runaway kids.
Starting with a bit of old slam poetry, Erika worked with director Isaac Byrne (whom you might remember from the second go-round of The Other Mozart) to develop the play, currently receiving its world premiere as produced by Theatre 4the People at The New Ohio.
Listen in as Erika and Isaac discuss lost innocence, being both playwright and actor in the rehearsal room, creating your own Neverland, why you shouldn’t rely on your box office, and why you should go wait in Central Park for “Shakespeare in the Park” tickets (hint: you might start a collaboration with others in the queue).
“I just kind of came to the realization that…you can’t really make money off theatre until it reaches a certain level…”
“…and even then…”
“…and even then! So unless you’re really coming in with a lot of capital, what’s the point? […] I just wanted people to come. […] And it’s actually been great…”
“I think it’s also really important to respect the community of artists that we’re a part of…and recognize that it’s our job to see theatre, and it’s our job to be a part of the theatre. It’s an exchange…”
Episodes featuring The Assembly have been some of my favorite episodes of this podcast.
Add this one to that list.
The company’s new show, I Will Look Forward to This Later, is currently running at The New Ohio. Make sure you get over to check it out, and definitely take a listen to this episode either on your way there, or on your way back. And, even better, hang out and chat with the company after the show, and dig into these issues with them yourself. They’d like to chat with you.
But at the very least, listen in to this episode as several Assembly members—director Jess Chayes, actor Ben Beckley, actor/writer Emily Louise Perkins, dramaturg Stephen Aubrey, and production designer Nick Benacerraf—discuss the Assembly process, inspiration from kabuki, choices/actions/consequences, conversations with your collaborators, your audience, & Judith Malina, and loss, legacy, & time.
“I think it’s important that we are in the process of figuring things out, that we don’t know the answers…and we’re excited about that.” Continue reading →